A University of British Columbia program will give aspiring politicians the training to thrive as future elected officials and handle the challenges of government life.
UBC’s Summer Institute for Future Legislators is for people of any political stripe who want to be prepared for elected service. It will run from June to August and offer skills development and mentoring on such topics as lawmaking, budgeting, media training, ethics, protocol and balancing political, personal and family life.
“We trust politicians with some of the biggest decisions in our lives, but offer and require surprisingly little training to prepare them for government,” said UBC Political Science Prof. Maxwell Cameron, the director of UBC’s Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions (CSDI). “Our goal is to give people the skills they need to be effective elected officials before they enter government – and ultimately, to help more good people go into politics.”
Former government officials from across the political spectrum will share their expertise with participants, including Preston Manning, former Leader of the Official Opposition, former B.C. Premier Mike Harcourt, former cabinet ministers Anne McLellan and Chuck Strahl, and former Speaker of the Ontario Legislature Steve Peters. Veteran political journalists will advise participants on media communications.
[Editors: Cameron, Manning, Harcourt, McLellan and Strahl are available before and after an 11 a.m.-2 p.m. PST meeting at UBC on Monday, April 29.]
Now accepting applications, the non-partisan Summer Institute will begin with Saturday workshops in June and July, followed by a week-long model parliament in August. An online component will enable participants from across Canada to watch, submit questions and interact in real time.
The Institute is the first step toward a proposed Model Parliament for Canada at UBC. To reside in UBC’s CSDI, the proposed academic program is being envisioned as one the world’s first comprehensive training programs for aspiring legislators.
Learn more at http://www.democracy.arts.ubc.ca.
“The Summer Institute will provide intensive hand-on mentoring and training for anyone seeking the experience and training necessary to make a difference at the local, provincial or federal level,” says UBC Prof. Max Cameron. “We’re soliciting applications from a diverse and cross-partisan group of women and men of all ages and backgrounds. The only prerequisite are political aspirations and a readiness to learn from highly experienced practitioners.”
“I am a great believer in political parties,” says Preston Manning, a longtime champion of the Model Parliament concept. “But the modern party has become almost exclusively a marketing tool for fighting elections. They do very little training despite the fact that people are their only real assets. We want to prepare people for government, and to help strengthen our democracy.”
“Most MPs acknowledge arriving in Ottawa feeling largely unprepared for what lays ahead,” says Alison Loat, Executive Director of Samara, a charitable organization that recently conducted exit interviews with MPs. “They recall their initial orientation to Parliament as hurried, slap-dash or altogether absent. The Summer Institute for Future Legislators program has the potential to enable people interested in politics to better understand the many aspects of Parliament and help build better elected leaders.”
Canada has more than 26,000 elected officials, including 308 MPs, more than 800 provincial and territorial officials, and some 25,000 municipal officials.
UBC Summer Institute for Future Legislators
Women and men of all backgrounds and ages with political aspirations who want to learn from experienced politicians and political watchers are encouraged to apply to the inaugural Institute.
The program costs $475. Students can participate for academic credit with permission of the instructors.
- Representative government: the constitution, theories of representation, rule of law, lawmaking, ethics
- Constituency work: knowing your constituency, small office management, work/life balance, ethics
- Communications: political and parliamentary communications, speeches, media relations, social media, ethics
- Parliamentary roles and procedures: caucus, cabinet, committees, opposition, question period, ethics
- Legislation: private member’s bills, house duty, voting on bills, budget estimates and supply bills, policy development, ethics
- Relationships: elected officials and the bureaucracy, judiciary, lobbyists and interest groups, social movements, inter-governmental relations, conflict of interest, ethics
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